Climate change is the alterations in weather patterns, in a particular geographical area or globally, that persist over a long period. Climate change refers to shifts in observable weather patterns such as temperature, humidity, rainfall, cloud cover, solar radiation, and wind (ELC, n.d). Climate change is one of the most prominent environmental and social issues affecting the earth. Climate change has an impact on all living organisms on the planet. Canada has shown commitment to tackling climate change through past, present and proposed policies but more interventions needs to be made to achieve the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions targeted in the INDC.
Climate change is noticeable in the changes to various weather phenomena recorded over a long period. The earth’s surface temperatures have increased by approximately 1 degree Celsius over the last 135 years (Horgan, 2015). The increases in temperature have led to expansions of deserts and arid regions. The changes in temperature have also resulted in severe and extended periods of drought in some regions. Retreating of glaciers and the melting of icebergs has led to increases in sea levels by up to 6.7 inches (Horgan, 2015). Changes in climate are responsible for recurrence of dangerous weather occurrences such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and heat waves.
Human activities have been pointed out as the major causes of climate change along with other factors such as the sun, volcanism, earth’s orbital movement, and plate tectonic movements. However, other people point out that climate change is a natural activity that has been happening over time and is expected to continue. Human activities that lead to the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, which trap solar rays in atmosphere, have triggered climate change (ELC, n.d). Countries have signed political treaties and agreements aimed at curbing the prevalence of climate change. Increased levels of industrialization and exploitation of fossil fuels in various countries has contributed to climate change. Philosophers point out that climate change is a moral and ethical issue as humans are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting all life on earth and preserving the earth for future generations (Cochrane). Scientists, philosophers and politicians agree that there should be efforts to encourage people and nations to change their practices and policies as a way of stopping climate change.
Canada’s Commitment to Tackling Climate Change
Canada has displayed a commitment towards stopping climate change in the past and the present. The Canadian Government has implemented various policies aimed at fulfilling the agreements outlined in the Kyoto Protocol (GC, 2015). The government has implemented regulations on greenhouse emissions from passenger vehicles, light trucks and heavy duty tracks. The regulations have helped in reducing the release of greenhouse gases from the transport sector by around 23% and expect the emissions to reduce by 50% by the year 2025 (GC, 2015). Regulations have been imposed on the importation and manufacture of vehicles with high emissions of greenhouse gases. Canada has shown commitment towards reducing emissions from combustion of fossil fuels. In 2010, regulations were passed that require gasoline to comprise of not less than 5% renewable content and 2% for diesel (GC, 2015).
Over the years, Canada has applied strategies to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. The government has reduced the release of greenhouse gases from electricity production by enforcing regulations on emissions from coal powered generating units. In July 2012, final regulations on electricity production were passed and effected in 2015 (GC, 2015). The regulations encourage electricity generators to change to renewable sources of energy and to reduce emission from their activities. The policies have helped Canada to attain one of the cleanest electricity systems in the globe (GC, 2015). Manufacturing industries have installed more efficient production processes and reduced their use of fossil fuels which has helped to reduce greenhouse emissions. The government has implemented greenhouse performance standards that have been applied across industries. Currently, the government is drafting regulations on hydro fluorocarbons (GC, 2015).
Canada’s Role in Climate Change Action
Canada needs to play a bigger role in tackling climate change. Firstly, Canada is one of the most developed and industrialized countries on the planet. Despite the high levels of development and industrialization, the country has managed to reduce the volumes of emissions of greenhouse gases. Therefore, Canada should provide guidance and direction on matters of tackling climate change to other nations (Bloomberg & Robertson, 2015). Canada is a signatory to climate change agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As such, Canada should help in fulfilling the targets proposed in those agreements by taking up a bigger role in climate change action. Canada is a member of powerful political unions such as the G8 and the G20 which should provide it with a platform to encourage other countries to take keener interest in curbing climate change.
Canada is the second leading country globally by area, and the biggest in the western hemisphere (Bloomberg & Robertson, 2015). Due to its size, Canada should take a leading role in combatting climate change because it stands to feel the effects of climate change more than other countries. Canadian energy companies engage in oil and gas production within the country and abroad. The Canadian companies should fulfill the role of ensuring that their activities foster efforts to stop climate change. Canada has also experienced its fair share of disasters that have been caused changes in the climate. Some of those disasters include forest fires and floods that have been experienced in some cities. The disasters have led to heavy financial losses to Canadian authorities and companies (Bloomberg & Robertson, 2015). Such events should spur Canada to take a bigger role in climate change action.
Assessment of Canada’s INDC
Canada’s INDC submission will be analyzed against the submissions from the United States and Russia. The US was chosen because of its borders Canada, both have an almost equal level of economic development, and both share a common marketplace. Russia was chosen because it is heavily involved in the production of energy like Canada, has a high level of development and is geographically and demographically larger than Canada. The implementation date for the contribution for Canada is 2030; same as Russia but a little later than USA which is 2025. The Canadian INDC submission states that the country intends to reduce greenhouse emissions by 30% of the 2005 levels by 2050 (INDC, 2015). Elsewhere, the US is targeting to reduce the emissions below 26% to 28% of the 2005 levels by the year 2025. Russia intends to reduce the emissions by around 70% to 75% of the 1990 levels by 2030. Based on this figures, Canada shows less ambition that both Russia which is targeting a higher reduction and USA which targets an almost equal reduction but in far less years than Canada (INDC, 2015).
Canada’s submission is more tangible and achievable than both the USA’s and Russia’s because Canada has most of the climate change policies in effect (INDC, 2015). USA and Russia have fewer implemented regulations than Canada and therefore their targets are less achievable. All the three countries intend to reduce greenhouse emissions across all sectors of economy which is an ambitious yet achievable. By applying the targets in all IPCC sectors, Canada is targeting the right sectors to reduce the greenhouse emissions. Canada intends to utilize international mechanisms to achieve its proposed targets unlike the US and Russia which desist from international mechanisms (INDC, 2015). This shows that Canada is more determined to achieve its targets than both Russia and USA. Canada’s targets and policies to achieve the targets are clearly and precisely stated. USA has a clear submission too but Russia’s submission is vague because it fails to provide an in-depth description of the policies that will be implemented (INDC, 2015).
There are various practices and policies that should be implemented by Canada in its quest to tackle climate change. The government should encourage the use of hybrids and electric vehicles by citizens (Hartman, 2015). Emissions from vehicles contribute a large portion of the greenhouse gases released into the air. With the growing population and the increasing rate of development, there will be more automobiles on the roads which will translate to higher emissions which will derail the achievement of the INDC targets. The government will have to implement policies that will encourage the manufacture and importation of more eco-friendly cars. The government will offer tax incentives to automotive companies that will manufacture or assemble hybrids and electric cars within Canada (INDC, 2015).
Automotive sellers that will be receive tax incentives based on the proportion of hybrids and electric vehicles in their fleet. The tax incentives will encourage the importation of more environmentally friendly vehicles and also reduce the prices of the vehicles. The low prices will encourage people to shift from the conventional gasoline vehicles towards hybrids and electric vehicles which will emissions of greenhouse gases. The government will pass legislations that will allow for registration fee reductions for automobile sellers engaged in the sale of electric vehicles and hybrids only (Hartman, 2015). The government will build charging stations around the country to encourage people to purchase electric cars. The government will also set low rates for electric charging to encourage people to change from gasoline vehicles (Hartman, 2015).
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